Jean Shepherd began his broadcast radio career in 1948 and settled in at WOR in New York on an overnight slot in 1956. "Shep" as he was called, delighted his fans by telling stories, reading poetry (especially the works of Robert W. Service), and organizing comedic listener stunts.
When he was about to be released by WOR in 1956 for not being commercial, he did a commercial for Sweetheart Soap, not a sponsor, and was immediately fired. His listeners besieged WOR with complaints, and when Sweetheart offered to sponsor him he was reinstated. Eventually, he attracted more sponsors than he wantedthe commercials interrupted the flow of his monologues. He broadcast until he left WOR in 1977.
In addition to his stories, his shows also contained, among other things, humorous anecdotes and general commentaries about the human condition, observations about life in New York, accounts of vacations in Maine and travels throughout the world. Among the most striking of his programs was his account of his participation in the March on Washington in August 1963, during which Dr. Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, and the program that aired on November 25, 1963the day of President Kennedy's burial. However, his most scintillating programs remain his oftimes prophetic, bitingly humorous commentaries about ordinary life in America.
At the time of the WOR radio show, Shepherd rode a Vespa motor scooter and parked it in the lobby of the WOR building, while at other periods during his WOR years, he drove a Morgan, a Rover, a Goggomobil, a motorcycle, and a variety of other vehicles.
Throughout his radio career, he performed entirely without scripts. His friend and WOR colleague Barry Farber marveled at how he could talk so long with very little written down. Yet during a radio interview, Shepherd once claimed that some shows took several weeks to prepare. On most Fourths of July, however, he would read one of his most enduring and popular short stories, "Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb that Struck Back," about a neighborhood drunk and his disastrous fireworks escapades. In the 1960s and 1970s, his WOR show ran from 11:15pm to midnight, later changed to 10:15pm to 11pm, so his "Ludlow Kissel" reading was coincidentally timed to many New Jersey and New York local town fireworks displays, which would traditionally reach their climax at 10pm. It was possible, on one of those July 4 nights, to park one's car on a hilltop and watch several different pyrotechnic displays, accompanied by Shepherd's masterful storytelling.
27 radio shows (in MP3 format) all on 1 data CD!
Numbers refer to production or broadcast dates (yymmdd) and series number when known: